Charles Umlauf (1911-1994), one of the more famous Austin artists, was a prolific sculptor. This museum displays many of his works in a fantastic garden spot located close to Zilker Park and just minutes from downtown. His sculptures range from realism to abstraction and include families, religious figures, animals and mythological characters.
This hidden treasure is an offbeat and charming museum of arbitrary collections, including train tokens from all over the world. Sometimes special local events are hosted here as well. The museum is maintained by Jen Hirt and Scott Webel, who run the tours. Be sure to check out the Ephemerata Gardens, and know that the couple keeps cats around the venue.
As the home of the Frontera Theatre company (which puts on the annual FronteraFest), this stage is the perfect place to catch a performance. Whether you like plays, dance, interpretive readings or even experimental projects, this theater has a show for you. The intimate environment (seats up to 80) is also often used for performances appropriate for children. Located in the middle of Hyde Park, one of Austin's more bohemian neighborhoods, the theater is a wonderful extension of the eclectic Austin way of life.
The former home and studio of German sculptress Elisabet Ney is open to the public for exploration. This home was one of the first buildings erected in the Hyde Park neighborhood, which was developed as a suburb in 1892 by Monroe Martin Shippe. Visitors flock to this museum to view nearly 50 busts and statues of Texas heroes, as well as Europeans she sculpted as a young artist. Her tools and several personal items are also on display. Admission is free.
Short story writer William Sydney Porter, whose pen name was O. Henry, lived in this home for three years while he spent time in Austin. It was constructed in 1891 and is filled with rare books, O. Henry's writing desk, original furniture, photographs, personal belongings and the chairs that brought The Gift of the Magi to life. Enjoy a guided tour and learn about the history of this home and its famous occupant. The house has been moved twice since from its original location at 308 East Fourth Street. It now features a gift shop with books, videotapes and more. The museum offers writing clubs for Austin children and sponsors many local events such as the Victorian Christmas celebration and the "O. Henry Pun-Off." Admission is free, but donations are welcome.
Tucked away in the backyard of a residential neighborhood is the Cathedral of Junk, a work in progress over 20 years in the making. Created by Vince Hanneman, the Cathedral turns old and discarded items into an ever-evolving structural work of art. Using old tires, hubcaps, all manner of metal scraps, pipes and more, Hanneman works and reworks the multi-level space into a playground of sorts for adults and children alike. As far out as it is, the Cathedral of Junk is, surprisingly, invisible from the street in front of it — only upon entering the backyard are visitors met with the mass of tangled metal and functioning electric items.
Established in 1935, Stateside at the Paramount, is an iconic theater, located bang in the heart of Austin. Shining like a jewel at the Congress Avenue, this theater is home to a range of plays, dramas and events. With a cozy and intimate ambiance, it truly reflects the opulence of the bygone era. If you are around the area, and wish to indulge in some history, this place is a must visit. Just sit back, and enjoy the show, as you soak up the charming appeal of this venue. To see their latest schedule of events, please log on to their website.
Museum of the Weird is a locally-owned museum in the Sixth Street area of Austin. With its inventory of curios and classic horror charm, Museum of the Weird is worth a visit for those in the area. The walk-through museum doesn't take long but it's packed with the unexplained, freaky and supernatural wonders of the world. The museum has their own house acts with live weird and wonderful attractions that will definitely keep your attention. There's a gift shop that is free to enter.
Located inside Austin’s Central Fire Station No. 1, this hidden gem is an interesting museum about the history of the Austin fire department. Learn about how the department used to be run by volunteers and see historic artifacts chronicling how firefighting has evolved over the years, including exhibits with old uniforms and a Hook and Ladder No. 1 lantern. Although this small museum doesn't feature flashy interactive displays, this is a fun place to bring the kids if they're interested in learning more about fire fighting and want to see part of a working fire station along with the historic exhibits.
The Joseph & Susanna Dickinson Hannig Museum is located right in the middle of downtown Austin, but is still a hidden gem. This place was the home of Susanna Dickinson, who was the one of the two survivors of the Battle of Alamo, the second being her little daughter. This rubble rock style house provides one a good glimpse into her life after the battle, being the house where she settled with her fifth husband. There are other artifacts relating to local Texan history, as well as temporary exhibitions held on different subjects.
Started by a donation received from a church, the Trinity Street Players Theatre, is truly one of the best kept secrets of Austin. This no-nonsense and no-frills theater group presents some of the most heart-touching plays, that hit the spot every time. Located at Trinity Street, it lies a stones throw away from downtown. Amazing casting, strong performances and power-packed shows are what they seem to be popular for. There are no ticket prices to see any of their plays, however a donation is always appreciated. A highly recommended theater for all those who love this art form, Trinity Street Players Theatre won't disappoint you.